Monthly Archives: June 2014

End of month view – June 2014


Well, what a balmy June.  However, partly as a consequence of this balminess, I feel like the garden has got away from me this month.  There has been too much indulging in garden visiting (there have been others, watch this space…) and just not enough proper graft.  One thing I have spent a significant amount of time doing is watering – especially all my pots.


Whilst others around the country have had some significant downpours, we’ve had nothing but the odd shower and as a consequence I’m developing arms like Popeye from carrying endless watering cans around.  Whilst we’re lucky enough to have a well (and associated complicated pump and holding tanks) the water pressure isn’t high enough to use a hose, hence the endless cans – and impressive muscles!


So, having made my excuses, here we go.  The first picture is the grass bed.  I still love the Stipa tenuissima, but the rest of the bed is looking rather a mess.  The hope was that the dark nasturtium (Nasturtium Black Velvet) would pick up on the dark orange of the buds of the fox and cubs, but the latter seem to be going over, and rather than orange I have numerous tiny dandelion type seed heads, which don’t go with anything.

On a more positive note, behind the fox and cubs, but in front of the grasses, I’ve planted a whole row of the Verbascum chaixii album which I grew from seed last year.  These are just starting to flower so hopefully by next month I will have pulled out the spent fox and cubs and have some towering verbascums to admire.


This is the left hand swing bed, which is looking a bit exhausted.  I haven’t pulled up the foxgloves yet in the hope that they’ll self seed, but the combination of them, the brown Nectoscordum heads and my very poorly Euphorbia wulfenii is not good.  However, hopefully some concerted effort in pulling all the above out, cutting back the geraniums (out of shot at the front of the picture), and giving some space, food, time and water to various annuals I’ve planted out recently (Cosmos Rubenza, Malope, Cleomes) as well as the existing Astrantia, Roses and Penstemons, will pull things back from the brink.


The ‘Med Beds’ (ie Mediterranean) either side of the greenhouse door are looking rather better.  The Geranium and Potentilla are flowering well, the Eryngium are preparing themselves and I’ve planted out many of the Agapanthus I grew from seed.  I don’t suppose they’ll flower this year, but fingers crossed for next.  I’m also pleased with the Euphorbia mysinites (at the front), which I also grew from seed and must now be about four years old.


This is the left hand Lavender Bed, the ones described as ‘bonkers’ in last month’s End of month view.   (Both lavender beds are shown in the foreground of the top photo).

Here you can see the old Allium Purple Sensation dead heads in amongst the lavender.  The colour of the lavender is picked up by the Veronicastrum behind, with a yellow flowering Euphorbia for contrast (and the ubiquitous Verbena bonariensis)


The shady bed is continuing to look lush, despite the hot weather, and the inherited rose is flowering well


and the hostas were also looking great, right up until the scaffolders came and planted their scaffold and ladder on them.

IMG_3666A new addition this month is my raised cutting beds which were made out of some repurposed greenhouse staging.  I’m a bit concerned as to how shallow they are, but whenever I pull up annuals at the end of the season the roots never go very deep so I hope with food and water they’ll do ok.  I’ve already cut some Amaranthus viridis, Molucella laevis as well as the Marigold, Calendula Sunset Buff, but the vast majority are still to come.


Meanwhile, in the veg bed, the Diving Lady’s pool runneth over (and is being invaded by courgette leaves), but at least she now has plenty to look at:


As well as three different sort of courgettes (yes, I know, too many altogether), I’ve planted French Beans (Cobra), Runner Beans (Painted Lady and Polestar), Chard Bright Lights, Cavalo Nero, Mange Tout, Sugar Snap peas and Pumpkin Munchkin.

IMG_3671I’ve finally planted out the greenhouse bed with tomatoes, cucumbers and, for the first time, Cucamelons.

IMG_3670And on the staging, second waves of beans and peas (which need to go out), various seedlings (the ones in the foreground are Abutilons) and cuttings, as well as in the grow bags some (rather diminutive) peppers and aubergines.

IMG_3643The wisteria is kindly providing a second flush, and the Oak Bed, which I always find disappointing, is actually looking rather calm in the heat of June.


And to finish, the most exciting development.  After some weeks’ persuasion, the OH has finally agreed that we can lose some lawn to make another bed (see hose line below) as long as ‘he doesn’t have to dig it’.  Wish me luck!

With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.


Superlative Sissinghurst

IMG_3460The Lutyens bench surrounded by glorious Clematis Perle d’Azur

It’s good to have friends.  Even better to have lovely friends who live within spitting distance of Sissinghurst, and invite you for the weekend!

It was another fabulous June day and although our visit was relatively short, we saw so much.

The first area was the famous White Garden which was looking a little ‘bitty’ as the newly planted out annuals are still filling out.  But the roses and eryngiuims were glorious and the effect of a white ‘room’ on such a hot day was very calming. IMG_3400


By complete contrast, we moved from the white garden to an area of bold orange and yellow planting.  These are two colours I don’t don’t have much of in my garden. not because I don’t like them, but largely because of all the inherited pink.  It was stunning, really bold and quite enveloping,  with fantastic height from the verbascum, IMG_3426

and Ligularia japonica.


Close up of Ligularia, towering overhead.IMG_3432 (2)

Further yellow was provided by the knapweed, Centaurea OrientalisIMG_3414

whilst the many oranges included the horned poppy, Glaucium corniculatumIMG_3417

Californian PoppyIMG_3423

Emilia coccinea (I’ve previously grown Emilia Javanica from seed which was very disappointing compared to this.  Perhaps I should dig up all my Fox and Cubs and replace them?)IMG_3418 (2)


and, probably my favourite honeysuckle, Lonicera ‘Dropmore Scarlet’.IMG_3421 (2)

With bold contrast from the very ‘bloody’ Potentilla atrosanguinea IMG_3433 (2)

From here to some really interesting shady planting.  Catananche caerulea AlbaIMG_3439

Turkscap Lily

IMG_3447 (2)

Anemone narcissifloraIMG_3443

Astrantia IMG_3453

and a beautiful, dainty climber, sorry no name.  Any clues?IMG_3442

Some great foliage Kirengeshoma palmataIMG_3446 

Onoclea sensibilisIMG_3454

And further into the light, Clematis Alba Luxurians (I think)IMG_3436

and a graceful philadelphus, Philadelphus Sybille, with a lovely sweet scent.IMG_3440

To finish, a fabulous purple borderIMG_3394

a view of the TowerIMG_3407

and a great little touch – a display of blooms currently in flower in the garden, together with their identities.IMG_3463 (2)

White Cottage wonderment


Another gorgeous June day and another garden visit.  This time to White Cottage Daylilies just across the harbour in Bembridge.

I first read about Nick Peirce’s garden in one of the posh gardening magazines a couple of years ago.  I was thinking what a stunning, intriguing garden, and was then absolutely stopped in my tracks to learn it was on the island.  Since then I’ve been a couple of times and was intending to go for Nick’s NGS opening earlier in the month, but got the day wrong. So bereft was I, I emailed Nick to ask if I could schedule a private visit and he kindly obliged. I was accompanied by my friend Louise from the Old Rectory and it was such a joy to introduce two of my gardening heroes to each other.  Both had heard of the other (from amongst others the Telegraph garden writer Jean Vernon, who’s written about both their gardens) but had not met and had not visited the other’s gardens before,


Nick’s cottage is terraced and so, when you enter the garden, the space is initially quite narrow.  However this initial confinement is only temporary, as the garden widens as you explore.  There is no lawn, so access through the garden is via a sinuous path which winds directly through the planting.  ‘Through’ being an accurate description, as by this time of year the planting is spilling out onto the paths, adding to the sense of discovery,


Nick admitted to us that whilst his first love was daylilies, he has since become intrigued by succulents, and more recently species fuschias, but there is a lot more going on in this garden than just those three genera.

Not only was yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday photo of Solanum Pyracanthum taken at Nick’s, but he introduced us to a host of other plants we were unfamiliar with including Buddleia  colvilei ‘kewensis’


Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’IMG_3277

and a stunning grass, sorry, I don’t have the name.IMG_3268

Something more familiar, but which I didn’t recognise, were the seedheads of Salsify.  They had incredible golden colouring in the June sun.IMG_3274

So back to the first three genera.  Nick has been breeding daylilies for years now – just as well, as it takes three years from seed to flower and then another three years until potential registration.  If you look on his website you’ll see he has now registered ten daylilies, all with the prefix ‘Vectis’ to denote their Isle of Wight heritage and that they’re his introductions.  It was a little early in the year for the daylilies, but there were a couple more bred by Nick to admire.

Nick also had some intriguing species fuschia.  The only one of his I recognised was Fuschia microphylla, which I have and have previously written about, but this one was gorgeous – so incredibly dainty, Fuschia procumbens variegata.IMG_3295

And to finish, I always love an arrangement of succulents – but I think this one takes the prize:IMG_3282

With many thanks to Nick for being such a charming and informative host,  But also for being so outrageously generous to not accept payment for the many plants we staggered home with.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – June 2014


Well, it all happens in June.  In addition to an my wedding anniversary last week, this week I had a big birthday, and to cheer myself up I requested a macro lens as my present.  And what a toy!  My first foray into the world of macro photography was Wordless Wednesday’s Allium Hair, and today I’ve had great fun getting up close and personal with my June blooms.

In the interests of keeping this to a manageable length, I’ve decided this month’s edit should only include either plants I’ve grown from seed, or blooms bearing a ‘bug’.  So I’ve started with my beautiful, soft pink Astrantia Roma, together with visiting bee.

Next my sweet peas.  I’m growing more and more each year, and this year they’re all along the back of the Swing Beds, in pots by the front door and in the veg plot.  I’m really only interested in flowers with scent, and this year chose MatucanaIMG_3391

Lord NelsonIMG_3377

Prince Edward of YorkIMG_3320 - Copy

Mrs CollierIMG_3340 - Copy

As well as four more from mixes from English Sweet Peas – ‘Fresh Air Mix‘ and ‘Parfumiere Mix‘.  Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the individual varietiesIMG_3342 - Copy

IMG_3339 - Copy



As well as sweet peas, I’m growing a lot of other annuals for cutting, including Cosmos Rubenza (a little short for cutting but I love the slightly smoky pink)IMG_3338 - Copy

PurityIMG_3332 - Copy


and Click Cranberries.IMG_3366

A couple of ‘greens’, Molucella laevis and Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’

A couple of oranges, Helianthus ClaretIMG_3386

and Calendula Bronze BeautyIMG_3379 (3)

and a couple sown last year – Digitalis Camelot CreamIMG_3369

and Knautia macedonica

IMG_3357 (2)

And to finish, another bug.  I think this is the caterpillar of the Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua, chewing a hole in my rose bud.  Sigh.IMG_3309 (3)

With thanks again to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the GBBD meme.


Taking stock in Stockbridge


Just every now and then, the stars align, and you find yourself garden visiting on a one of the most glorious days of the year.

Thursday, saw me in Stockbridge, Hampshire, a beautiful town in the heart of the Test valley.  (The Test is an English river well known for being beautifully clear and for the excellent quality of the trout fishing).  There were four gardens open for the NGS, and I indulged in them all.

As ever with group openings, each had a very different feel and yet there were a couple of themes running through.  Firstly, ‘light and shade’.  On such a bright day one was acutely aware of areas of sun and shade, and all the gardens had some kind of pergola or shaded sitting area, as well as areas of shady planting, providing wonderful contrast to the brighter, sunnier areas.  Secondly, brunneras.  It took me until the last garden to realise what the attractive leaf was, which I think I saw in every garden – Brunnera Jack Frost below.IMG_3146 (2)

This Brunnera, (and the poppy, top) was in the garden of my first stop, ‘Little Wyke’, which was reached down a narrow passage to the left of the property.  Anticipation was high as the scent of the roses was concentrated in the passage and acted as a wonderful hint of the joys to come.


As well as some gorgeous roses, including Generous Gardener, above, there were some unusual and striking planting combinations such as the artichoke with the daisyIMG_3157

as well as the Nigella and the (I think) yellow DorinicumIMG_3148

There were also some beautiful old planting containers

and a potting shed resembling a work of art.


The second property was the Shepherds House, I think the largest of the four.  The owners had been there eight years and in that time had made significant changes, including some serious earthworks to create not only a stunning pond, but also some really interesting levels.  The garden was full of contrasts – not only the levels, but also really striking light and shade, made even more noticeable on such a bright day.


The perennial borders sung with colour, whilst the planting around (and in) the pond was more restrained and more foliage based.IMG_3182


The third property was The Old Rectory which had the Test (or a tributary?) running through the boundary.  The river is incredibly clear and admiring the light on the water, with a halo of roses above, was just magical.


In addition to more restrained riverside planting, there was a pond with voluptuous waterlilies,IMG_3214

some lovely ‘pops’ of colourIMG_3201

and some fabulous pots.



Lastly, Trout Cottage, which I think was the smallest of the four but had some really interesting planting – especially vertical, to make the most use of the space.

The planting had only commenced in 2008 and it was incredible to see how established it all looked.  There were some fabulous ‘plummy’ combinations reminiscent of the Stoke garden I loved at Chelsea – Astrantia Gill Richardson with Antirrhinum Black Prince


As well as numerous climbers.  Below Rosa St Swithun (looking considerably better than mine!)IMG_3222

and Rosa Abraham Darby,IMG_3235

Clematis Niobe


and Clematis Madame Julia Correvan, which apparently never sees the sun and is still thriving.


And lastly, the beautiful bright green foliage of Hydrangea Quercifolia, at the back of the pergola.  Not only lovely now in the summer, but in autumn the foliage turns a lovely deep red.


So, what to take away from Stockbridge, other than memories of a fabulous day’s garden visiting?  Well a wishlist for a pergola, a pond, a trout stream, oh, and maybe even a possible one, a Brunnera Jack Frost.

With many thanks to all the owners, not only for opening their beautiful gardens, but also for giving me permission to write about them here.






In a vase on Monday – Romance and roses

IMG_2873Mushy alert – those of a cynical disposition look away now!

So Friday was my 27th Wedding Anniversary (child bride you know!) and what better way to mark it than by arranging roses in a rose bowl, bought by my sister and me for our parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary?

Clearly life isn’t quite that perfect, and the weekend passed without any roses in rose bowls, but thanks to the joys of ‘In a vase on Monday’ the moment has now arrived.  And I can share it with you all long before the OH staggers back from the golf course.  Ah, the secret of a happy marriage – ‘apartness’!

The roses are St Swithun,IMG_2866


Madame Gregoire Staechlin,IMG_2870

Snow Goose (buds),IMG_2871

as well two lovely, inherited roses I don’t know the names of.  They’re both scented.  Any clues?  By the front stepsIMG_2869

and in one of the Lavender Beds.IMG_2867

With thanks again to Rambling in the Garden for hosting  – and allowing me to share the lurve 😉IMG_2863


My over-the-road-oak June

IMG_2847As you can see, my oak hasn’t really changed since May, when it achieved its full canopy.

However, what’s new this month is that for the first time I saw a green woodpecker in the oak (you’ll have to trust me on this, it wasn’t captured on camera) and that, together with a comment from Bob Flowerdew on Gardeners’ Question Time regarding the number of species the oak supports, got me thinking about the oak as a habitat.

According to the Woodland Trust oaks support more life forms than any other native tree and host over 280 species of insect, who in turn supply many British birds with an important food source.

Last month I talked about the Oak Apple, caused by the Gall Wasps’ larvae.  Today I thought I’d look at a couple of other insects residing in the oak.

Firstly, the oak bark beetle (Scolytus intricatus), which depends on the oak tree for its survival. The female oak-bark beetle gnaws a vertical tunnel into the bark of the tree, forming a chamber where she deposits her eggs. The larvae develop in or under the bark and when they emerge, they gnaw tunnels of their own away from the original chamber, creating a vast network of tunnel homes. whose larvae create a distinctive pattern of galleries in the tree’s wood.

See photo from below showing the larger horizontal ‘mummy’ tunnel and all the larvae tunnels radiating from it. Note how their tunnels widen as they travel away from the centre.  Oh they grow up so fast!

Nut weevils, on the other hand, don’t use the tree itself, but instead use the acorns.  They have long, thin snouts (called a rostrum) and the female uses it to drill a hole into an acorn where she lays her eggs. When the larvae hatch they grow inside the nut until they are ready to pupate after the acorns have fallen to the ground.

See photo below from  Is it just me or does it look like a smile?

With thanks again to Lucy at Loose and Leafy for hosting this ‘Follow a tree’ meme.